tv Your Business MSNBC August 23, 2009 7:30am-7:59am EDT
i'm jj ramberg. welcome to "your business" where we give you tips anded a advice to help your business grow in the tough economic times. with a regard number of retailers closing their doors. a new trend has small business owners seizing the opportunity to pop-up in what otherwise would be empty space. we'll meet teleentrepreneurs putting their spin on this idea. a few weeks ago this was an empty store front. today it is a bustling flea market. this is a pop-up shop. >> pop-up is basically a store that pops up for a limited amount of time and then disappears. >> pop-up shops, stores with
short-term leases lasting anywhere from a few hours to six months are the latest trend in retail. >> this pop-up contrast is perfect for the way i think about my business. >> lisa perry, a designer of '60s inspired clothing and accessories just opened a pop-up in her neighborhood. he would rather pop instead of stop in any one place. >> it is not a loot of work, though, having a store that comes out of nowhere and goes away a few months or a few weeks later? >> well, it is, but i don't think i could have done if i didn't have a vision for this space. with this space, we took possession on a monday, i came here painting and wednesday we brought the stuff in and on thursday we were open. >> you opened your store in four days? >> yes. >> lisa provides an affordable exposure to her brand.
>> you are payingless per month than you would if you had a long-term lease. >> i'm pretty sure it is half price. >> when you look at the value of this, do you think of it as a sales tool or marketing tool? >> i really think of it as both. for me, my design show and studio was on the second floor. for me to get on the street level, that he had made all the difference in the world. it is great for sales. i have tripled, quadrupled the amount of stuff in here. >> photographer matt schwartz also raised awareness for his company without raising his expenses too much by opening up a pop-up in the brooklyn, new york, a&g merch. >> i've been doing it a couple months and it is the best thing i've invested in towards my business. >> matt is one of the emerging
people in this a&g merch store. >> this is an area we created for local artists and businesses to sell their own product in their own way but also be a part of a&g. for the designer or the business person whose aging out of a flea market and not yet ready to open their own store, so it allows them to have their area, have signage, price everything in the way they want to. >> it appears she may be on to something. also anticipating the pop-up phenomenon are the folks at open house gallery, a pop-up retail location and event center in new york. they bought a 4500-square-foot white-walled space two years ago and operating it as a store front ever since. >> we established the business at a time when the economy was unstable and, you know, a lot of these -- you know, not just the
smaller brands, but even bigger brands, you know, would pull back from, you know, signing a lease on a new store or, you know, launching an e-commerce site because everyone seenls more conservative. >> open house allows entrepreneurs the space to test the waters with little risk and if a concept works there, it may be time to call the real estate broker. >> there's only one way you'll be able to know if your business is going to be successful, and that's to test it. again, now, it is a time when people are really holding back and being conservative, but from my opinion, you know, any time is a good time to try something new. is the pop-up phenomenon going to be a lasting trend or one that disappears as the economy turns around? we'll turn to our board of directors. doug fleener is the author of
the book "the profitable retailer." james barrood is from rothman institute of entrepreneurial studies. and harleen kahlon is from thestreet.com. this seems great as a marketing tool, but, you know, you are spending all this money to put a store up, do people think of it as, i'm spending this much, i need to get this much in return or are they thinking more is the way to get the word out? >> well, i think you can do both and you can definitely use it as a way to test the second location, you can definitely make sales and go from, you know, lisa perry is definitely making sales and being able to expand her brand. you definitely can make sales. >> real estate people are looking to rent out space right now, so is this the time to test your retail con snept a store front. is this the time to be looking?
>> i think so. there's a lot of space on the line, and there's a lot of the social medias, small businesses can take advantage of this. if they have a twitter following or a large e-mail list, this is the perfect opportunity to do it in a vacant store or do it in a bigger store that has some space not being utilized. make an agreement where it is essentially free because you are going to bring extra traffic to the store. >> yeah, and the gap did that. they lifted their french boutique take up one of their stores exclusively for a period of time. they gave their store to them and they didn't pay anything. certainly, large companies are open to that. >> what should you do have as a retailer to make sense? >> there's synergy between the customer base you are going after and the customer base, the smaller business may be going after. if they can bring new buzz to your brand by you associating with them, if you have customers in common, you can end up having them bring people to you that will eventually buy from you.
it is about exploiting synergies. >> i guess that is really like any business. location might actually be more key for this because people aren't going to know that you are there, so they have to be walking by and find you, right? >> you definitely want to be in a high traffic area, but for a small business, you can test the concept on the other side of town, so it is not just for big business but anyone who may want to go to where the traffic is at a very affordable price. >> do you think this makes more sense for people just trying to generate a little buzz or somebody just testing the waters who really wants to get into having a store? >> i think it can be both and for an accomplished retailer. you can be a gift store and mother's day do pop-up stores around town. there's a lot of opportunity. >> if also, you are doing a promotion, there could be a pop-up around the promotion. >> sure. something with limited availability, like a new product, you can do something around that. you need to create buzz, that's the key. >> right. large companies do this all the time, ikea has used pop-up
stores in the past. lipton tea has used pop-up stores. >> united did. it was pretty common. >> if you are a small business owner and considering doing a pop-up store, the key thing is to have a plan. you don't want to go out and put up a store. you want to make the most of it. >> you need a vision as to what you want it to be like. thank you, doug. we really appreciate it. nbc universal and american express have joined to the to shine a light on america's small businesses. is there a small business that you treasure? if so, go to msnbc.com/shinealight. there you can nominate a business to win $100,000 in grant money and marketing support. the address again is nbc.com/shinea llight. it will be narrowed down to three by myself and ellen
degeneres. you, the public, will choose the winner from the top three. a great example of this is something like ray of cleveland. as we first told you, ray was a man with a dream who wrote his passion and his mountain bike, as you'll see, to success. people said it wouldn't work. >> one friend said, just keep your money in the bank. >> they told him he was crazy. >> i became the subject of some jokes. >> they said no one would come to an indoor mountain bike park, but ray had a dream of starting his own business. and like kevin costner in "field of dreams" he knew in his heart that was enough. >> it is like a mountain bike miracle. like a field of dreams type of thing. >> there was no business plan, no business model, it was just behind stupidity, luck, passion.
>> for the die-hard mountain biker, riding was an addiction. one that replaced the life of drinking, drugs and partying. >> i sobered up and started riding my bike. i've been riding ever since. >> but when the cold winter months hit cleveland, he had to endure a whole season off the bike. >> here in the northeast when you have rain, mud, for five, six months out of the year, i always thought it would be fun to do something on an indoor level. >> he tossed around the idea for years but never acted on it. one day he got together with an old friend and started talking about dreams and regrets. the idea of the mountain bike park came up again. >> he asked me, i was like, well, there's one thing that still bothers me. it is this indoor mountain bike park. i think it would work well and he said, i think it's a great idea. so i got a sunday paper, monday morning i make a phone call to a
little small ad in there that said clean space, low rent. >> the next day ray saw the space. >> she opened up this big door and there's a huge space with all the skylights in it and it is like a bible card where the sun is blasting through the clouds and it is like -- >> with a day job in construction and his live savings of $50 thousand, this was the moment he turned his love of mountain biking into his business. did you have doubts at that time? >> i did when i got home. i was like, how am i going to do this? this is crazy. when i asked myself, what's worth it, going broke or having to live with myself for the rest of my life knowing i had the opportunity to live my dream and i chickened out? >> soon there was a buzz in the bike community about the world first indoor mountain bike park. >> they started showing up at the door and building with wood.
>> there was a whole community and they all rally around ray. that's a hard thing to make happen. >> now this is a local fixture in the community. a magnet for the pros. >> my initial reaction when i walked in here was like, who did this? >> who did it? >> ray. ray is the man. >> ray continues to work his day job in construction to put all the profits from the business back into the park. and despite his success, he doesn't think of himself as a businessman. just a guy with a dream who got lucky. >> did i build this, maen? i don't know. there's probably a lot of people watching going, this dude's an idiot. he just got lucky. i don't know who said it, but there was something like you'll never work a day in your life,
and i think i feel very fortunate i got to experience that. it comes from a restaurant downtown. a shop on main street. a factory around the corner. entrepreneurs like these are the most powerful force in the economy. the reinvention of business begins with them. and while we're sure we don't know all the answers, we do know one thing for certain: we want to help. come see what the beginning looks like at openforum.com it is anytime time to answer your business questions. the first one is from andy who asks, i have to get a car for my business. should i buy it or lease it? what do you think? >> i think ultimately it is a matter of personal preference. there are things to consider when deciding whether to lease or buy. for example, if you are going to keep the car for more than five years, maybe you buy it.
if you want to switch a car every three to four years, lease it. if you are putting on a loot lot of mile annual, then you buy. if you are not going to be, then you lease. there are rules like that. at tend of the day, there's the personal preference. do you want to own your car, do you want to switch your car around, that's what it comes down to. >> do you take different things into consideration when you are doing it for yourself versus your business? >> you can, but you can't overplay the tax advantages because after all is said and done, you are still playing paying that money out every month. you need to pick the best product for the cheapest product to get the job done, especially this environment. don't go out just because of the tax advantage to buy a luxury car or something very expensive. >> okay. the next question comes from owner of a company selling gingerbread baking kits. >> you say there are business lines available, but they require a heck of a lot of
capital up front to obtain that lope. how do we go about obtaining venture capital? >> we cannot talk about this topic enough on this show. we get this question in many forms every single week. let's get your advice. >> well, she probably is not looking for venture capital. it is probabliless than $1 million. it would be angel investors, but i would suggest first let the family, friends and fools and factory. if she has large orders coming in, sell the invoice at a discount. it is a little expensive, but use the orders to get cash up front. if you use family and friends, just make sure there's contract written out. that's probably the best first step to take. >> i keep waiting for one of the guests to come up with something so crazy, but everyone always says family and friends first. that's the place to go. >> also, angel networks are an interesting source for entrepreneurs trying to raise money. on the west coast, you have
sandhill angels, these are groups of individuals who get together and invest in companies. they will give you a pretty large amount of money, assuming you have reached their threshold, but they do it together so the risk is diversified. the bar is a little lower, they make more investments and put in less money than bcs. >> we have people on our program from -- it could be interesting to look into something like that. >> they might want to look into central banks to take advantage of. >> things are changing all the time with that. okay. moving on to a question from the owner of a fancy foods company. >> we are a small company based up in maine. to this point, we have been around for a couple of years, we have only tributed our products ourselves, and we are wondering if we can be successful without engage i engaging sales tips. we have specialty shops.
we don't want to put the products everywhere. >> she wants to grow and grow beyond her area. i guess it depends how much work you want to put in yourself and travel. >> right. distributorships are probably the best way to scale. in fact, the only way to scale efficiency. she can find ones that just focus on these types of stores. that's probably the best next step. >> i think it is really important for, you know, for this person to really ask about the timing. is the timing right? have you exhausted all the ways to grow your business before going that route because there's a lot involved in really trying to expand the distribution outlets. you have to train people, if you bring people on. you have to manage new relationships. this is a big undertaking. i would really advise sitting down and really asking yourself, have i done everything i can do to grow my business given what we have and then really think about taking that next step. >> yeah, i think it is such an interesting point of deciding, do i hire outside sales people, do i partner up with a distributor or do i keep doing it myself? because you become a different
kind of company. your job becomes different. if she's doing all the selling right now, she's not having to manage that right now. >> interestingly enough, i spoke to one of the faculty who is on the food retailing, 85% of these foods are sold through supermarkets. so, i mean, it is not hard to sign a contract with a distributor and just expand your sales base exponentially. it is worth trying. >> then you can deliver on the product and expand that much. now to the last one with a question fromester. i have a small retail store and i'm not able to be there all the time because i'm overseas buying the merchandise. does it make sense to hire a mystery shopper to evaluate the customer service? it is not that expensive, but does it make sense? >> i think it does. it is not a difficult thing to do. it is not very expensive. there are organizations out there, in fact, like the mystery shoppers providers association that can connect you with someone. i think it is easy to do.
i think, you know, when you consider that one of the number one reasons that customers leave buzzes is customer service. make sure it is topnotch. this could be a great way to figure that out. now, i would say if you are overseas and really thinking you have to resort a mystery shopper, i would -- i would say do you have someone in your office managing operations that you trust? maybe that's something you want to think about as well. >> you might as well start with the students or friends of friends. just -- to see if there is an issue. maybe there won't be an issue. >> that's a good point. you don't necessarily go hire one. you can get your cousin go shopping in the store. thank you so much. this is great advice. we have all of these questions from our audience. i want to let you out there know if you have a question for our experts, just head to our website. you can submit your questions by clicking on the contact us link. while you are on the site you can view this segment and other portions of our show. you will find web exclusive content and videos, too. you can find all of that at yourbusiness.msnbc.com. when we come back, how to improve your business without
spending a dime. a look at some trade show promotions giveaway items that will get folks to stop by your booth. during times like these it seems like the world will never be the same. but there is a light beginning to shine again. the spark began where it always begins. at a restaurant downtown. in a shop on main street. a factory around the corner. entrepreneurs like these are the most powerful force in the economy. they drive change and they'll relentless push their businesses to innovate and connect. as we look to the future, they'll be there ahead of us, lights on, showing us the way forward. this is just the beginning
of the reinvention of business. and while we're sure we don't know all the answers, we do know one thing for certain, we want to help. come see what the beginning looks like at openforum.com if you are a frequent business traveler you probably have your fair share of horror stories about getting stuck in an airport waiting for a flight. our website of the week can help you avoid this. flightstat.com provides detailed flight data for popular routes all over the country. type in your departure and arrival cities and you will be given a list of carriers and average delay times for those flights throughout the day. the site also offers downloadable wij it with a real-time flight tracking
information. tried shows can be a great way to get the word out about your business. if you are among hundreds of exhibit tors how do you make sure attendees remember you? you give out free stuff, of course. richard fairfield, publicler, with asi, serving the promotional products industry section here to show us great trade show giveaways. we are going beyond the pen here. >> that's right. >> something a little bit more exciting. >> what about this ball? light-up ball. when you -- you do this at a trade show you can actually throw it out a little bit. if people are good catchers. it is very inexpensive. it is very eye-catching. >> you know, i have been to a lot trade shows recently. i know that people go to the booths that have the good stuff. they are thinking -- i want to show the ball the my kid. >> absolute. >> i they will go find you once they see other people carrying this. this cash i have never seen anything like this. >> lightsaber. who is this for?
>> it makes a little bit of noise. >> i haven't quite figured out what kind of company would give this away. >> a tech show. produce probably only give it to people that are high prospects. those people that you give it out to when -- around the trade show floor, they will definitely tell people where they got that. >> people for sure will be asking. >> exactly right. >> this is my favorite one have you so far. the talking t-shirt. this is not necessary giveaway but it is to wear yourself. >> wear it and, you know, you have -- try to get people to come into the booth. and -- >> or to perhaps offend them. >> offend them. if you have to make an entrance, you have that as well. have you lots of different things here. >> you definitely are going to get attention with this. there are 20 different sounds on here. i'm just going to leave us with this one. sexy theme for a different kind of trade show.
these are the things you give out so people have your -- >> exactly. give to everybody. >> that's okay. with our background. >> this you can give out torch. it is a very inexpensive item. and -- sticky notes. you have logo -- every page is logos. everyone will see -- >> once you get home, they left the trade show, they still have you right on their desk. >> right. people go through so many of these. >> i like these. next two. they are use pl. nobody will take this and stick it in the trash. >> well, this one here, you know, hand sanitizer, everyone is concerned about germs. you know, just very simple like that. and -- just rub it in like that. but this -- i would -- with so many handshakings, so much people concerned with swine flu and everything like this, this is perfect for a trade show. >> useful. >> very useful. >> so people don't just take and it throw it out and waste it. 50 cents or $5 or whatever you spent. >> the same goes for next one. >> warm weather place. you have this and you have a stick. so if you put it on your
sunscreen, put it in your luggage, it is not going to leak out. it is very, very -- >> logo stay was the person after they leave. >> absolute. >> i and then going to something a little bit more typical, the bag. >> right. >> i go to trade shows and see whoever gets that bag to people first, their name is everywhere. >> if you spent extra money for a special display like very close to the trade show, you definitely want to give out a bag. they are going to start at your booth and then the whole trade show they are going to be putting stuff in your bag. >> right, right. >> here's a relatively inexpense you have seen them in the supermarkets. a lot of areas, inexpensive. if you have an ecofriendly theme, this -- bag is made out of jute. a lot of room here, to logo anything. but all -- >> expense. >> a little more. not so cheap but not expensive. probably about $5 or $6. you can get a good price on that. >> okay. if anyone out there wants anymore information on any of these or some other trade show giveaways you have to check out asicentral.com. you will see the talking t-shirt
and other things. appreciate it. >> how do you ensure your company's survival without breaking the bank? here are ways. number one, engage your staff. be visible and let them know that you are open to communication in good times and bad. two, reach out to your clients. make sure that they know you are interested in their well-being by asking what you can do to help them in these tough times. three, keep a close relationship with your bankers. keep them up to date on any positive developments regarding your company. four, maintain a balance. in a difficult economy, it is tempting to drastically slash overhead or prices but try to resist making drastic changes. and number five, speed up your information flow. streamline your data and look at the conditions within your market or industry. larger economic issues may only cloud your judgment. to learn more about today's show, just click on our website.
yourbusiness.msnbc.com. you will find awful today's segments plus web exclusive content with more information to help you grow your business. >> did i get called on? >> yes. >> you got called on but you wish you hadn't because you were wrong. it is not b. it is c. nicely done. we are interested in hearing about what is going on with your small business. click on the news icon to take part in our community discussions about today's topics. next week, it is not always easy to fill your father's shoes. especially when time comes to pass the family business on to the next generation. >> struggles, power struggle along the way. hard time getting power up. taking more than i probably needed at the time. but, you know. >> it is a delicate balance of the daughter takes the reins in her father's colorful business.
remember, we make your business our business. during times like these it seems like the world will never be the same. but there is a light beginning to shine again. the spark began where it always begins. at a restaurant downtown. in a shop on main street. a factory around the corner. entrepreneurs like these are the most powerful force in the economy. they drive change and they'll relentless push their businesses to innovate and connect. as we look to the future, they'll be there ahead of us, lights on, showing us the way forward. this is just the beginning